Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Matthew Monias knows exactly what he wants.
“I have a clear vision of what I want to do with my life,” said the 20-year-old, a member of Garden Hill First Nation in Manitoba. He’s hoping to become a hugely successful recording artist and music producer while continuing to inspire others.
Monais, who performs under the name Mattmac, has been blind since birth. His lifelong passion for music will hit a milestone on Friday when his debut album 20/20 is officially released.
The eight-song album is a collection of his raps, hip hop and beats.
His first single, Paradise, is already deemed a hit. It is one of the top songs on Indigenous playlists across the country and is on the verge of cracking Top 40 lists on commercial radio.
The video for Paradise can be viewed here.
Though Mattmac is enjoying the popularity of his debut single, he’s also looking forward to having the public hear some of his other work.
“It’s been getting a lot of airtime,” Mattmac said of Paradise, a song he wrote last year while contemplating a previous relationship.
“But I’m just ready now for the next stage. I’m ready to release the next songs.”
Besides an opening track called 20/20, Mattmac’s album also includes songs titled Think Too Much, Focus, Just Wanna Feel Alive, Break Me Down, I’m Sorry and Embrace.
“The album paints a picture of where I am right now with my life,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with the way it came out. It’s been a long time coming.”
Mattmac’s album enables listeners to get glimpses of life on his First Nation and includes mentions of his family, struggles, healing and love.
As for his moniker, Mattmac, he explained it was a nickname his friend came up with. That’s because while utilizing his Mac computer, his friend would point out it was Matt on Mac.
This was eventually shortened to Mattmac, a name that has stuck.
In terms of the name of his first album, the obvious connection is the current year. Mattmac said 2020 also signifies the year he turned 20 and the year he graduated from Garden Hill First Nation High School.
Plus, there’s also the connection to the term 20/20 vision.
“I’m still able to do everything,” Mattmac said. “I mixed all my vocals and recorded all my vocals for the album.”
Mattmac has been singing since the age of four. He grew up in a music-loving family that frequented gospel jamborees.
He taught himself how to play guitar, piano and drums. Besides singing, he concentrates on his guitar and piano playing these days since he does not have a drum set at his home.
Mattmac’s career got a boost four years ago when N’we Jinan, a non-profit organization that features a mobile recording studio, visited his high school. The group works with Indigenous schools and communities across Canada.
Mattmac was one of the students from his high school chosen to record a song titled Help You See.
Upon hearing the song, Canadian singer Nelly Furtado asked Mattmac to help her perform it at WE Day celebrations in Winnipeg and Ottawa in 2017.
David Hodges was part of the N’we Jinan contingent that visited Mattmac’s high school. Hodges is also one of the founders of inPath, another organization that is supporting Mattmac’s work.
Hodges’ organization is assisting Mattmac not only with his marketability, but with many of the business aspects of being a musician.
“He is like a sponge,” Hodges said of Mattmac. “It’s incredible to see how much he can learn and how quickly he learns. I found out it’s because he has been listening his whole life. He’s learned everything through listening.”
Mattmac has also been receiving plenty of inspiration himself in recent years since he discovered Blind and Famous, an internet group featuring members from across North America. “We do rap, record and produce,” he said. “And we make a lot of our own beats.”
Because of the pandemic, Mattmac said he is not scheduled for any live performances in the immediate future. But he is continuing to hone his craft.
“I’m already working on my next album right now,” he said, adding he has more than enough material for a second album, which he is hoping will be released by the middle of next year.
Hodges believes Mattmac is capable of having a bright future.
“Some people see him now and think that he’s made it,” he said. “But Matthew still has a long way to go. Could he blow up? It’s not going to happen overnight. But he is gaining a lot of listeners and inspiring a lot of people.”
Though his debut album is officially being released tomorrow, Nov. 20, Windspeaker.com can provide this link to get 20/20 now.